Thursday, October 22, 2015

Questions Still Loom For Twins 40 Man

As with all major league organizations, the offseason brings change. The Twins have been done with baseball games since the first week of October. Now looking ahead to preparing for 2016, roster decisions begin. The first came with three players being removed from the 40 man roster. Shane Robinson, Eric Fryer, and Aaron Thompson were all outrighted to Triple-A and cleared waivers.

Heading into 2015, Robinson was signed strictly as a veteran outfielder to provide depth, a move that the Twins missed on the year before. Paired with Jordan Schafer, it was Robinson who proved vital and gave the Twins everything they asked of him. Fryer is was little more than catching depth this past season, and despite getting big league action, it was more out of necessity than anything. Thompson, a former first round pick (by the Florida Marlins), put together a strong first couple months before eventually falling off the deep end for the Twins.

Now with all three players allowed to either accept the assignment to Triple-A or elect free agency (as I would expect Shane Robinson will and should), the Twins 40 man roster stands at 37. With both Logan Darnell and Ryan Pressly on the 60 day DL and needing to be activated, that leaves one opening of the 40. Minnesota no doubt needs more space however.

Before even considering free agency or trade acquisitions, Terry Ryan has some internal housekeeping to do. Minor leaguers Taylor Rogers, J.T. Chargois, Zack Jones, Felix Jorge, Travis Harrison, and Adam Brett Walker all need to be added to the 40 man or be vulnerable in the Rule 5 Draft. Each of those players would seem likely for the Twins to want to protect. In total, that's seven needs with just one open spot.

Having yet to do so, Minnesota has room to trim more from the 40 man however. A.J. Achter came up late in the season and pitched out of the pen, but his minor league success didn't follow, he would seem to be someone that would go unclaimed on waivers and could be outrighted. Ryan O'Rourke would also fit that mold. Concerning more "big-league" type names, Blaine Boyer, Brian Duensing, Chris Herrmann, and Eduardo Nunez are all possibilities.

I'd assume that Minnesota would be open to bringing Boyer back in 2016. Despite pitcher over his head for the most part, he could have a role in an improved pen. Duensing likely won't (and shouldn't) be offered a new deal, so I'd expect him to be on the way out. For Herrman, his place is in secure if the Twins don't address their need for a catcher (they likely will, but that means Herrmann's removal will be spoken for). I'm not quite sure on a read for Nunez and his spot with the Twins going forward. He's arbitration eligible, but he could be bumped if the Twins want to use Danny Santana (who's out of options) in the utility role.

Looking at those raw numbers in a quick sense though, it would seem they open up only three more guaranteed 40 man roster spots. In total, that gives the Twins four openings with seven guys needing protection, and outside help likely on the way. Trades could address some of the roster crunch, and we're sure to see things unfold more completely as the offseason drags on.

The only other guaranteed openings for the Twins come through the removal (or assumed removal) of free agents. Minnesota has five: Torii Hunter, Mike Pelfrey, Duensing, Boyer, and Neal Cotts. Hunter is a wile card, while Pelfrey is anything but. Duensing is assumed gone, and Boyer is up in the air. The Twins will likely talk to Cotts, but his performance down the stretch should have them being cautious, left-handed thrower and all.

For now however, those guys on the bubble have to be wondering where they fit for the Twins going forward. In the Rule 5 Draft this past season, the Twins selected J.R. Graham from the Atlanta Braves, and they lost Sean Gilmartin to the Mets.

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